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Doctors urge people to know the symptoms of a stroke

Posted at 6:21 PM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 19:21:04-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Christmas morning, Rochelle Swanson, a 39-year-old registered nurse with Methodist Hospital, realized something wasn't right when she tried to pick up a large item.

"It took me a minute and I was like, 'Something’s wrong here.' I just felt slow, my thoughts were there but my body was slow and I felt almost gravity pull my face down and I was drooling. Being a stroke nurse of all things I just knew I was having a stroke," Swanson said.

Swanson called her husband and they drove to the emergency unit at Methodist where she was treated for her stroke.

Doctors who treated Swanson say the 39-year-old's case is an example of why it's important people know the signs of a stroke.

"I’ve known Rochelle for a very long time and she’s someone who is very healthy, very fit, not someone the general person would expect to have a stroke so that’s why it’s important to know what the signs and symptoms of a stroke are," said Pam Stout, the stroke program coordinator at Methodist Hospital.

Doctors say to use the acronym Be Fast. Balance issues, eyesight - either loss of vision or blurred vision - facial drooping, arm or leg weakness, and speech issues are signs or stroke. T stands for time to call 911.

They say not to delay contacting 911, even if your symptoms are mild.

"The biggest obstacle we see is patients just not wanting to come in and give it more time, and so I think the take home message is let us sort it out. If there’s a sudden change in your neurological condition call 911," said Michael Pichler, a stoke neurologist at Nebraska Medicine.

The two hospital systems work together in their stroke units to ensure the best possible care for the community. The partnership began because only a small amount of physicians can do a certain procedure called a mechanical thrombectomy that is needed for some stroke patients.

"We want to make sure we had a good relationship with Nebraska Medicine so if we have a case that’s confusing or a case that’s puzzling we’re going to pick up the phone and we’re going to be able to call and talk to them," Stout said.

Doctors say the most important thing is to not delay care. Once you recognize that you may be having a stroke, seek medical care as fast as possible.

"If you have sudden change don’t delay. The sooner you come in the sooner you can get treatment and we’d much rather you come in and us tell you it’s not a stroke then have you wait until you’re no longer eligible for that treatment because then we have to switch from having to prevent deficits from happening to figuring out using therapies to try to get you back to the baseline you were at, which is a much longer process," Stout said.